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Do any of you readers , know of a very simple, dependable starting point for an old meditator , who sits everyday, but I do not have contact with any meditation teacher, who I am connected with. I sit, and make an effort to practice the mahasatipattana practice. For example, a thought to start out my meditation, that will enable me to have a session where I am not distracted or get to nervous , or sluggish, and so on. I say some prayers and refuge, and the I meditate, afterwards , I dedicate to merit to all living beings, not excluding a single one.

Part of my problem , is as I get older I have more health problems that affect me now, physically.So, I hope I made my question clear. I know , if I could go on a retreat, I would be sitting more firmly, but I can't attend a retreat at this time in my life. I have started , lately, the last two years, sitting for 5 minutes, twice a day. with prayers, dedication of merit and so on.

Does any one have a similar situation , were you have figured out how to start correctly? Meaning, starting out and having an undistracted session? The alternative is, I just don't meditate , but maybe read some Buddha sutra, or a good teachers explanation..

  • Hello Pasquale and welcome to Buddhism SE. We also have a Guide and a Resource tab for new users that you might like. Enjoy your time here. – Lanka Aug 23 '17 at 0:31
  • Thank you, I am new to this site, but not new to the BuddhaDharma. I do not count my breaths, I think counting leads to a somewhat insensitive mind. Not a realistic mind either. – Pasquale Aug 24 '17 at 20:52
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There is a very simply Mahayana method, derived from the meditation teachings recorded in Classical Chinese Sutras.

A) Sit in comfortable position, ideally Lotus pose - like most the Buddhas' statuses. If you can't just sit as you are comfortable with, doing the visualization of light... [excerpted]. This can expel sluggishness, for it empowered.

B) Or, doing visualization of fire... [excerpted]. It's very good for health and curing.

I don't think the teachings of breathing meditations (or your mahasatipattana), [added: neither the so-called mindfulness meditation], mostly found around the corners, are correct. If you can do correct breathing meditation it would be awesome as well. Neither are there translations of any Chinese Classical Sutras can be trusted. Even Nagarjuna's Madhyamaka were grotesque molested by the translators, I discovered when doing some related researches.

I say some prayers and refuge

If you do so, I highly recommend you replaced with Nianfo (Jap: Nembutsu). It will greatly benefit you esp. benefiting older people. Apart from all the talks of Nembutsu, these Buddhas/ Bodhisattvas names are composed of Seed Syllables of Sanskrit, it has its mystical property that's mentioned in Gateway of Dharani, taught in Mahaprajnaparamita Sutra. Again trusted Eng. translation unavailable most were done by Theosophists like Edward Conze, they were badly translated.

  • Thank you , right on. I met Edward Conze. I sat in on one of his classes Saw him around town, too , and at master Hua's in San Francisco. I didn't know he was a Theosophist.He was very , very smart, and a genuine Dharma practitioner. I felt sorry that his health was very bad, at that time. I like I think I need to stay on the first foundation longer, and Thank you , very helpful, you are. P.S. I already do most of what you suggested. Please stay in touch. – Pasquale Aug 24 '17 at 21:00
  • Hi Pasquale, thanks for your feedback on the answers. I hope you won't be disappointed if or when users on this site do not use comments for dialogues -- this site is meant to enable a simple question-and-answer format ("with no chit chat"); and so, comments and discussions are discouraged. Comments are meant to be usually simply to "request a clarification from the author". – ChrisW Aug 25 '17 at 8:16
  • Wonderful! Glad that you find it helpful :). Assumed you read the post before edition. Very good, that's 1st hand information of those "masters". But you should be the real master for you should discern their teachings and take only their goodies. I read some articles of Master Hua long ago. You're most welcomed if anything I could assist. Meditation doing rightly is very beneficial for health. – Mishu 米殊 Aug 25 '17 at 10:51
  • Hopefully in not too much time I get my website up with resources for authentic Mahayana Buddhists and for those who are unbiased in searching for the true Dharma. Since I do get trained in Classical Chinese somehow I felt obliged to do something for that treasure the teaching kept in the Chinese lineage, for those who are fortunate, to get dabbing in the Buddha's words. Some Sutras translated maybe they could enrich your study :). – Mishu 米殊 Aug 25 '17 at 11:03
  • Thanks, ChrisW, for your clarification. sent on Aug 25, at 8.16. – Pasquale Aug 29 '17 at 22:07
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A standard beginner's practice for those who get distracted is to count your breaths. You can count them by subvocalizing, or on fingers. I counted by touching my thumb to three phalanges on each finger, and for each full hand - count one phalanges on the other hand.

Another practice to establish the mind in the beginning of the session is to 1) review all body sensations, head to toe and explicitly note every discomfort, then 2) review all breathing tensions and emotional sensations and note all of the preexisting conditions, then 3) review the state of the mind and note the quality of thinking & awareness today. Once the review is complete this way, it helps to set all distractions aside.

Then again, it's not like the distractions and sluggishness is one, and meditation is some perfect state separate from those. The whole point of (Buddhist) meditation is to work with your inner condition, until you learn to manage it, and in the process get some insight. So don't treat the obstacles as something unexpected, working with obstacles is the meat and bones of meditation.

  • Thank you Andrei, I think I didn't make myself clear enough, I have been practicing for over 55 years. Mostly Zen, but I did many retreats with Theravadin masters. I do know how to practice Mahasatipattana , that's what I do. I learned that I do this after I started studying the Suttas, after I had been sitting for over 30 years. I believe that Mahasatipattana is the natural way, once we are drawn to the Buddha's Dharma. Thanks, Please reread my question, and see if you get a clearer idea of my basic question. – Pasquale Aug 24 '17 at 21:08
  • Hmmm, I see. So your question is specifically about prayers/offerings/visualizations before meditation, that could help improve quality of your focus in meditation, is that right? – Andrei Volkov Aug 24 '17 at 21:27
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I am 76 years old and have practiced mindfulness meditation for 50 years. I suggest that what you need to know is how mindfulness meditation actually works. I have written a book on this topic but nobody buys it because I cannot afford to advertise it. Anyway, mindfulness meditation works because it engages something I call a safeguard cognitive process. It helps for you to know that your mind cannot understand something unless it makes sense to you and your mind cannot do something unless it makes sense to you. You have a very sophisticated intelligent function or mental process that constantly makes sure that what you think, do, or decide actually makes sense. This process can be viewed as a safeguard against errors in learning or against errors in the application of what you have learned. This very intelligent process operates unconscious, so you do not get a chance to see its benefits. When you practice mindfulness meditation you engage this process by being objective and alert. I suggest meditating for at least 20 minutes at day. You might try "focusing" as defined by Eugene Gendlin because it is similar to more advanced forms of mindfulness meditation. My name is Ronald Cowen.

  • Ronald, Thank you for your concerned sharing. What is the Pali, or Sanskrit Buddhist term for this term, "safeguard cognitive process"? Could it be panna , or Sampajnana? Which, by , I mean right discrimination or proper discernment. Also, I mention the goal was to find a "successful " starting Point. I mentioned that in my first sentence. Thanks. – Pasquale Aug 24 '17 at 21:04
  • The one place where you are allowed to "advertise", on this site, if you want to, is in your user profile. See also this help topic, which I think suggests you could post quotes from your own book[s], when the quote is relevant to your answer and the OP's question. – ChrisW Aug 25 '17 at 20:38
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Good to have guidance on fundamentals. A Buddhist teacher will be very beneficial. Individuals vary. Any starting point at any point in life is possible.

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